Dental Care in Kyiv

Always one to be proactive and on top of going to the dentist every six months, I started inquiring early on about dental care here in Kyiv. I was assured by the doctor on site and another EFM that good quality standard cleaning and dental work is something I can get done here. More than one person recommended a particular dental clinic, so a couple of weeks ago I made an appointment for my husband and myself to get a cleaning.

Walking in to the clinic, I was very surprised at the level of cleanliness. We were given booties to put over our shoes. The dental hygenist and dental assistant wore masks, gloves, and hairnets. They even had my husband and I wear them while in the dental chair. My husband had his cleaning first, then was seen by the dentist. Right away she identified that he had a crack in his tooth (which my husband was aware of prior to the visit), and they went to another room for an X-Ray.

I stayed in the dental room while the assistant sanitized everything, from the tools used down to spraying and wiping the dental chair. It was my turn. Boy, my gums did feel sore afterwards, but my teeth felt very clean. The dentist came in to check my teeth and confirmed that I have no new cavities and no other issues with my teeth.

My husband and I were both given brochures with tips of daily home dental care (brushing, flossing, mouthwash, etc.). The total cost for the both of us for this visit, including X-Rays, was $200 USD, which for us not electing to get dental insurance through my husband’s employer this year, was fine with us. I had dental insurance through my previous employer and we both went to the dentist for cleanings in April.

We are waiting on the dental clinic to call us regarding a follow up on the care needed for my husband’s cracked tooth. However, he and I both feel very comfortable getting whatever further dental work that needs to be done here in Ukraine.

Hosting My First EFM Coffee

There are certain rights of passage for Embassy spouses, also known as EFMs. One of those rights of passage is hosting events, teas, and/or dinners with other EFMs and coworkers of your spouse. So when the email came a few months ago from CLO that they needed people to host the monthly EFM coffee, I signed up for the month of October. I had been prepared by my mother-in-law and the CLO office that up to twenty-something people could attend. I figured it would give me enough time to unpack, organize, and decorate the apartment, observe what other EFM coffees were like for reference, and to come up with some recipes to impress.

EFM coffees are an opportunity to meet and socialize with other Embassy spouses and to commiserate on everyday life and challenges of living abroad. You get advice, someone to talk to who understands what you are going through, and in general just have a good time.

The EFM coffees I had attended since June had an attendance of anywhere from four to twenty four people, so I did not know how many people to expect. My wonderful mother-in-law sent recipes, and I scoured the internet for fall brunch ideas, and settled on a menu. I also ordered fall decorations to make our apartment festive for the event, and for fall in general.

On the menu was:

Egg muffins with bacon and cheddar cheese

Egg muffins with broccoli and cheddar cheese

Pioneer Woman baked French toast

Pumpkin Bread French Toast (gluten free)

Apple Strudel Muffins

Fruit salad

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rice Krispie Treats

Brownies

An assortment of beverages such as coffee, tea, juice, wine, sangria, and champagne

The day before, I was given a headcount of RSVPs from CLO. Needless to say, I was relieved because there were fewer people than I had anticipated. A fun fact about me is that I have anxiety about people coming to my house. The apartment needs to be perfectly clean, there needs to be enough food and drink, and I am usually worn out from cleaning and cooking for hours that I usually don’t relax enough to enjoy myself.

The days leading up to the event I prepped as much as possible. Two days prior I baked pumpkin muffins for the pumpkin bread pudding, made cookie dough, and my husband and I made a trip to Le Silpo for food and drinks for the event. The day before I prepped the overnight baked French toast and pumpkin bread pudding, the Rice Krispie treats, and sangria.

I woke up at 5AM the day of the event to get most of the baking done- cookies, brownies, and the apple muffins. I also put together the fruit salad. We recently hired a part time (5 hours a week) housekeeper, and she came in that morning to come to do last minute cleaning. I could not have have done it without her!! One hour prior to the event I put the overnight French toast and pumpkin bread pudding in the oven, started the coffee, put all the plates, silverware, glasses, etc. out, got ready, and put the egg muffins in the oven right as event was about to start.

Although I received great feedback on the food, it took a lot out of me. I don’t know how people host parties and make it seem so effortless- but I think I pulled it off!! I am lucky that I have been able to witness and help in the preparation of my in-laws hosting large family gatherings of about twenty four people for about 8 years now, so I have learned a little along the way. It sure helped but maybe next time I’ll host a lunch instead to give myself more time to prepare!!

National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine

One of the places that had been on my “must see” list while here in Ukraine was the National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine. My friend’s visit last weekend was the perfect excuse to see something new and to be outside in the glorious sunny 70 degree weather we had that day.

Learning from our parking fiasco the previous day at the Mezhyhirya Residence, we immediately parked about 700 meters from the entrance on the side of the road and walked to the entrance. We paid our fee of about $2 USD each and we were on our way!!

A reconstruction of traditional Ukrainian villages, the National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine was quite expansive, showing architecture of the different regions of Ukraine. There were buildings we could tour of an old school, a church, several houses, and so on. It was interesting to see the old kitchens, living rooms, workshops.

In addition to traditional buildings on the grounds, there were food and craft vendors and performers. All in all, it was a wonderful day filled with good food, music, and a glimpse into traditional Ukrainian life!! I want to visit again in the early summer to see the field of sunflowers in full bloom!!

Mezhyhirya Residence

This past weekend a college friend of mine came to visit, so of course we showed her all around town. We went to a mix of places my husband and I have been before, and new places to all of us. We took her to St. Sophia’s Cathedral, the Maidan, and Khreschatyk Street the first day, along with a traditional Ukrainian Restaurant, Pervak. Pervak was very touristy, but the food was good and the flight of infused vodka shots was the perfect way to start off my friend’s stay here in Ukraine.

One of my husband’s coworkers had recommended the Mezhyhirya Residence as a top place to show visitors, so we decided to go there on her second day visiting us. At first I was cursing my husband’s coworker because the line of cars to get to the Mezhyhirya Residence was backed up for over a kilometer. It took us nearly 45 minutes to get a spot on the side of the road, and then we walked about 10 minutes or so to the entrance. In retrospect, it would have been easier and much faster to park at the end of where the cars were parked on the side of the road and walk.

My initial annoyance was curbed shortly after we paid our entrance fee of approximately $6 USD per person and saw the beautiful grounds. Mezhyhirya was a monastery for many years before it became the summer house for former Ukrainian presidents. In 2014 it became a national park open to the public. There was a tennis court, golf course, ponds, a lake, a zoo, a few cafes, classic cars, and many more things to see on the property. It was a picture perfect fall day, so we enjoyed a few hours strolling the grounds. The residence was so stunning that I saw some brides and grooms having their wedding photos taken there!!

Old Car Land

This past weekend the hubby wanted to go to what he said was a classic car show called Old Car Land. Admittedly, cars are not really my “thing,” but I wanted to take advantage of being outside on a crisp beautiful fall weekend day, so I went along for the ride.

As with everything in Ukraine, this “car” show was completely unexpected and totally cool!! What I thought would be an exhibition of a bunch of old cars ended up being an event with planes, helicopters, motorcycles, military paraphernalia, and new and classic cars, some brands of which I have never heard of.

One of the highlights for me was they had vendors selling different flavors of mulled wine, which I zeroed in on shortly after arriving. It was a crisp, cool autumn day, and the hot spiced wine was greatly appreciated!! I was impressed by how nicely refurbished the interiors of some of the cars were. One car even had a map on the window of all the places that car went during a road trip this past summer. It went to quite a few countries all over Eastern Europe!!

The cost ended up being around $20 for the day- around $12 USD admission to Old Car Land for the both of us and $8 USD total for popcorn, a cup of mulled wine for me, and whiskey for the hubs, which made for an affordable and nice weekend day date for us.

Old car land also had a lot of food vendors selling popcorn, cotton candy, grilled meats and veggies (one vendor grilled hotdogs in the hood of a car), and as stated above, my favorite, mulled wine.

It’s Fall, Y’all!!!

Fall is my favorite time of year!! I first encountered the beauty of the changing of the seasons when I lived in New England for eight years. New England knows how to make a person fall in love with autumn. I went apple picking (which also meant that I enjoyed fresh apple cider and cider donuts), I experienced Salem, Massachusetts during the month of October, I ate my fair share of Dunkin pumpkin muffins and pumpkin donuts, I watched Patriots football, I wore all the cute fall clothes, enjoyed the cooler weather, watched trees turn yellow, red and orange, and when I walked outside, the sound of leaves crunching under my feet made me so happy. It was glorious. After living in New England, my husband and I moved to south Florida, where I desperately missed seasons.

Now that I am living in a place that has four seasons again, I am incredibly happy. Our apartment is decorated for fall (thank you Amazon and Walmart!). The leaves are changing color. The weather is cooler so I have been breaking out the lightweight jackets, scarves and boots that I have been longing to wear for years (not much use for them in Florida where fall weather is 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity). I am loving hearing the sound of the crunch of leaves under my shoes. Pumpkin, apples and butternut squash are in season here as well (the apple cider is amazing!).

Although fall has been great so far, I can’t help but to reminisce about some of the things that I took for granted living in the United States that make fall “fall” for me. Apple picking, cider donuts, canned pumpkin, Dunkin Donuts pumpkin muffins and pumpkin donuts, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, and fall scented candles. And unfortunately there is a big time difference, so the first football game of the day starts around eight o’clock at night, which is nearly bedtime for me (yes, I go to sleep ridiculously early).

Alas, that is how things are when you choose to move overseas. The only option is to make the best of it, put on your creative hat, and try to substitute when you are able to. I was able to order pumpkin muffin mix online. They sell cider at the Le Silpo grocery store, so I will attempt to make homemade cider donuts. As for candles, I am going to look for some at Epicentr this weekend. Wish me luck!! As for football, I will attempt to record a game that we can watch on Monday night instead of Sunday.

So, I will leave you with a few pictures that capture this fall for me thus far..enjoy!!

We Got A Dog!!!

I have never been a dog person, or a pet person for that matter. My first memory of a dog was my grandparent’s dog, a Golden Retriever, knocking me to the ground inside their living room when I was around 5 years old. Big dogs intimidate me because of this memory and small dogs annoy me because 99% of them jump on me. And I do NOT like it when dogs jump on me. I never had a desire to have a pet, and I never had a pet until eight years ago when I moved in with my husband. He had a cat, and I was miserable- I did not like the experience at all. She destroyed our couches, peed on the carpets, and did not, as Marie Kondo would say, spark joy for me.

And even though he already had a cat, my husband always said he wanted a dog. For years the situation was not ideal for us to have one, however. We both worked and were away from the house for most of the day, and we lived in apartments with no doggy door, no backyard, and our landlords/apartment buildings/HOAs did not allow dogs.

When we moved here to Kyiv, my husband again stated (for the millionth time), that he wanted a dog, but I did not think he was serious. I gave my husband so many reasons why we should not get a dog.

“It costs too much”

“I will have to clean up all the messes”

“Our house will have dog hair all over it”

“Our house will smell if it goes pee on the carpets”

“We will have to cut dinner and outings short to be back by certain hours to walk the dog”

“The dog will destroy the furniture”

“We are living in a place that snows 5 months out of the year and is freezing November through late March- do you really want to walk the dog in sub-zero temps when the sidewalks are icy?”

“It will cost us thousands of dollars each time we go from post to post for airfare, vaccinations, etc.”

My husband told one of his coworkers he wanted a dog, so his coworker, being a dog owner and pet lover, sent him email after email on the daily with info on dogs that need to be adopted here in Kyiv. One day, my husband showed me a picture of a female Shepherd mix, and asked my opinion. I replied, “oh, she’s nice,” in a noncommittal tone, like I always have when he shows me pictures of dogs. A few days later, he said to me “the guardian of the dog is bringing her over on Friday, we’re getting her.”

So, on Friday the 13th of September, we got a dog. A ten month old Shepherd mix we decided to name Mila. We had a translator come to help us with the paperwork and communication with the guardian. The following day we took Mila to the vet to have a chip put in her and to have them verify that she is sterilized, which we also needed the translator’s help with.

For a week and a half, I have been getting acclimated to having a dog. I am still not a dog or pet lover, but she is slowly growing on me. Despite going pee three times on our bedroom rug, I’d say she’s pretty much the perfect dog. She is good natured, is socialized pretty well with other dogs, and is small enough (at 45 lbs) that I am not intimidated by her size. She also listens to me most of the time.

The irony is that my husband wanted a dog, yet I am the one who is doing the bulk of the work!! I have spent a lot of time researching natural and organic dog foods, watching hours of YouTube video on dog training, and ordering all the things for the dog (LED dog collar, Kong toys, dog treat container, doggie bowls, dental bones, mat to go under the dog bowls, dog brush, dog treats, dog food, carpet deodorizer, doggie bags, etc.). Every day I feed her, walk her, sweep up massive amounts of dog hair while my husband is at his job.

I also have to have most of the doors shut when I am at home, because she is not to be trusted to go into other rooms by herself yet. This has led to me feeling trapped and claustrophobic, which has not been good for my mental health. Everything I’ve read states dogs are good for mental health, but for me, it is the opposite thus far. I have already had a massive anxiety attack, which thankfully my friend called me despite a 7 hour time difference to help me calm down and talk it out. To alleviate my sky high levels of anxiety and stress, I made my husband promise that we would get help with a dog trainer and part time housekeeper ASAP. The amount of extra cleaning that I have to do is no joke!! I realize this is just a season, and soon she will be house trained (I hope)!

It has been a big adjustment for me, and I never realized how much puppies are like two year old children. You have to watch them all the time, your sleep is cut short, they demand lots of attention, you talk more about pee and poop than you ever have before, they have tons of energy, there are toys scattered throughout the house, and you have to feed them multiple times a day. And they make messes that you have to clean up.

On the other hand, dogs also do hilarious things that make you laugh every day, you are forced to play and kind of be a kid again, and they give you lots of kisses. I now easily make my step goals thanks to daily walks, and my dog brings out a nurturing side and motherly side of my personality I never knew I had.

Without further ado, I present to you our new fur baby, Mila!

Lviv Trip Part 2

Day 2 of our trip was jammed packed full of fun!  It started with a buffet breakfast at our hotel.  I must say that the hotel we stayed in was phenomenal and exceeded expectations.  It was centrally located, had a buffet breakfast with eggs to order, a great bar, and heated toilet seats.  Ladies and gents, if you have not experienced heated toilet seats, it is something that I highly recommend if given the opportunity:)

The concierge had given us a map of the area and circled various items of interest for us to explore when we checked in the day before.   We decided to go to High Castle, which is actually ruins of a castle on top of a hill with a fantastic view of the city of Lviv.  We took an Uber there, as it was quite a walk from the hotel.  The Uber was super cheap (I think less than $3 USD) so we were fine with that.  We ended up doing a lot of walking around the hill to get to the top of High Castle, so we did get our exercise in that way.

Our next stop was Pototski Palace, which we randomly saw on a magnet in one of the souvenir stands on High Castle.  Yep, we saw a picture of a palace that was in Lviv and said, “let’s go here.”  So we did.  Pototski Palace was well kept and had a ton of beautiful artwork for us to enjoy.  For an entrance fee of less than $4 USD per person, it was well worth the time and money to visit.

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After a busy morning hiking up the hill and exploring a palace, we worked up an appetite.  Lucky for us, I noticed on the map that the concierge gave us that there was an Asian food festival going on at one of the local parks that afternoon, so we walked there to check it out.  In addition to Asian food, there was barbeque, local vendors selling crafts and honey, and archery.

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Once we had our share of bites, beverages, and ice cream, we headed to the Lviv Opera House.  We paid less than $4 USD for a self-guided tour, and were so impressed that we decided to come back a couple of hours later to see a performance.  We ended up seeing the opera Don Pasquale.

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After the performance we went to a Mexican restaurant for tacos and margaritas.  We walked back enjoying the town lit up at night.  The next day we headed back to Kyiv on the express train.  All in all, it was a wonderful holiday in a beautiful city.  I would definitely come back to Lviv again!

Lviv Trip Part 1

Recently my husband and I went on a short holiday to Lviv, Ukraine.  Located west of Kyiv about 431 km (268 miles) from the Polish border, Lviv was on my bucket list of places to travel while posted here in Ukraine.  The architecture and ambiance had been described and shown in pictures as a dreamy romantic getaway city, and it did not disappoint.

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The fact that we could travel there by train, car, or plane left us with several options.  I had heard good things about the express train to Lviv, so we decided to take that route.  The time it took to travel from Kyiv to Lviv was a little over five hours.  The train ride was air conditioned, with WiFi, and there were snacks and beverages available for purchase.

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When we arrived in Lviv, there was overwhelming commotion – construction (and lots of nonstop construction noise), endless tour buses, cars, and tourists in and around the station.

Train Station

Needless to say, the ambiance was not what I expected at first.  Once we got in our Uber and entered the Opera and Rynok Square areas about 15 or 20 minutes away from the train station, I saw exactly what I envisioned.  We arrived at our hotel around noon, and luckily they allowed us to check in early.  Our hotel was located fairly close to Rynok Square and the Opera House, which allowed for us to walk pretty much anywhere we wanted to go.  So, we dropped our bags off, freshened up, and headed out to explore the cobblestone streets of Lviv.

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Our first stop was Rynok Square.  We were hungry, and it was lunchtime, so we wandered around until we found Baczewski Restaurant, which had outstanding Pierogis and beer.  We sat outside and people watched during our meal.

Afterwards, we explored more of the square, with its many stores and vendors.  We popped into Lviv Chocolates for a sweet treat and then walked around some more, buying some souvenirs.

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While exploring the square, a restaurant that caught my interest was one that I called the sword and the stone restaurant.  From the pictures below, you can see why I gave it that name:

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One thing I noticed were the many lion symbols throughout the city.  This is due to the fact that Lviv is translated to English as Leo’s lands or Leo’s City.

IMG_0721After a long day of travel and walking around, we called it a night and went back to the hotel, gearing up for a fun second day in Lviv!  Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Lviv holiday..

Museums and Park Sunday Funday

About a month or so ago, my husband and I went on a city tour arranged by our CLO office.  During the tour, we visited Taras Shevshenko Park. Unfortunately our camera was not functioning that day, so this past weekend we went back to take some pictures of the park and to visit some of the museums in the area that were pointed out on the tour as well.

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Taras Shevshenko was a Ukrainian poet, writer, and artist.  He was also an academic, political figure, and ethnographer.  To read more about his life, check out this Wikipedia site

Taras Shevshenko Park has a restaurant, a few food and drink stands, and unique benches.  Here are some pictures of the beautiful park:

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There is a museum about a block away with Taras Shevshenko’s work, but we ended up going to a couple of other museums instead after walking around the park. The first museum that we went to was the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of Art. We did not take many pictures, but the artwork there was phenomenal.  Ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman art was displayed, as well as very old Ukrainian art.  Admission was less than $4 USD per person and worth every penny.  As we entered the most beautiful sculpture caught our eyes:

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After exploring the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of Art, we went to the Kyiv National Museum of Russian Art.   The price of admission was under $4 USD as well, and had some really wonderful art.  Below were some of our favorite art that was displayed in the museum.

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Sherwood Family Nonsense

My Life As An Expat Abroad

She Picks Up Pennies

Living a More Purposeful Life One Cent at a Time

Collecting Postcards

Foreign Service Officer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Budgets Are Sexy

My Life As An Expat Abroad

Get Rich Slowly

My Life As An Expat Abroad

Jenni Goes Global

our life abroad

Technically a Diplomat

My Life As An Expat Abroad

Ramble On - Foreign Service Specialist

My Life As An Expat Abroad